Puerto Rican eyewear company finds welcome at Sears
Growing step by step has set COA Sunglasses on the path to success but it took a campaign on Antrocket.com to get it off the ground.
“Getting started with Antrocket was one of the best decision we could have taken,” says Gregg Williamson Pérez, CEO and founder of the eyewear firm whose signature wood frame sunglasses are gaining in popularity.
“Antrocket served as a launch pad and as market exposure. We recommend the platform to any entrepreneur,” he said, offering one caveat: a successful funding campaign requires that one go out and make an effort.
Currently COA sunglasses are available at the Sears optic stores in Plaza Las Americas and Mayaguez in addition to the Puerto Rico Museum of Art and BF4BP, a store in Santurce. COA is a visible presence at the monthly market at the Urban Market at Ventana al Mar and its sunglasses can also be purchased through the company’s website.
Currently, the company sells between 25 and 30 pairs per month; a pair costs $150 or $175, depending on the model.
In its latest development, COA is now offering frames for use in prescription glasses.
And it all started with three friends with different backgrounds, including engineering, who got together to figure out what kind of product they could put out in the marketplace. They settled on sunglasses, practically a must in the tropics.
In studying available products for sale, they found that those made out of wood lacked a good finishing or were unattractive.
With an “I can do it better” attitude, the partners cobbled $5,000 in personal savings and spent the next year and a half developing their product and the manufacturing process based on 3-D technology.
The striking specs come in three different designs and are handcrafted using majo wood from Puerto Rico or exotic woods like nogal, zebra and cherry. The semi-finished glasses produced by machine are finished by hand to achieve a polished, smooth frame.
“All parts that touch the face are soft,” Williamson explained.
Once they had a product and a brand COA turned to Antrocket in 2013 to raise $3,000 for the purchase of additional 3-D equipment. It raised $3,906.
Subsequently, the company participated in a Made in Puerto Rico competition sponsored by the Puerto Rico Products Association in Nov. 2013 and received further exposure as a finalist in HIT 3001, an initiative by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce to promote innovative local enterprises.
COA takes its name from a wooden stick used in farming by the Taínos, the indigenous people of Puerto Rico at the time of the Spanish conquest.
Eyeing the future, Williamson said the company plans to continue developing new, innovative products.
“A good example of developing new products is our current capacity to offer glass frames which opens to us a much larger market,” he said.